As you will see from the newsletter below, there are great reasons to visit the ScotlandsPeople website. In this letter you can see, among others, a sample of the will of Lord Kelvin( 1824 to 1907).

William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, was a Belfast, Northern Ireland, born British mathematical physicist and engineer, Lord Kelvin is widely known for determining the correct value of absolute zero as approximately -273 Celsius.

If you’re interested in giving a ScotlandsPeople Gift Voucher as a holiday gift, you’ll see instructions on the available packages:

The recently-launched Wills and Testaments (1902 to 1925) are proving to be very popular with visitors to the ScotlandsPeople website. These new online records (and accompanying inventories) make for fascinating reading, and offer terrific insights into the lives and relationships of the people who lived in Scotland during this era.

If you have never used the Wills and Testaments records, then this is the perfect time to give them a go. The highly comprehensive indexes are free to search and, as we have recently changed the payment and pricing method, they are now available to view for only 10 credits (which is roughly 2.33 GBP) per document.

In the last newsletter, we highlighted the wills and testaments of Andrew Carnegie, Sir John Murray and Thomas Millie Dow, and also the last letters written by World War One soldiers. As these examples attracted a lot of interest, we thought we’d post some more examples from these new online records.

Donald Stewart (1826 to 1909), Head Gamekeeper at the Balmoral Estate
One of the wills we’ve been looking at is that of Donald Stewart, who was the Head Gamekeeper at Balmoral Palace for over 50 years, and who acquired a number of gifts from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert during his lengthy service. In the example pages below from Stewart’s will, we can read about these royal presents and what became of them following his death.

Lord Kelvin (1824 to 1907)
We’ve also been reading the will and inventory of the world-famous scientist, Lord Kelvin (aka William Thomson). When he died in December 1907, Lord Kelvin had amassed a fortune of £128,000, which would be worth around £10.2 million in today’s terms. From reading his will we learned how much he valued education, as he left £5,000 (this would be worth £400,000 today) to the University of Glasgow, so that it could promote teaching and research in ‘Physical Science in connection with the Natural Philosophy Class’.

Example page 1 from the Will of Donald Stewart

Example page 2 from the Will of Donald Stewart

Example page from the Will of Lord Kelvin

Margaret Baillie/Bailley, nee Donoghue (1849 to 1904) – Craiglockhart Poorhouse, Edinburgh
As a result of the Small Estates Act of 1894, which made it easier and simpler to record testaments, the Wills and Testaments (1902 to 1925) also include people who were extremely poor. So we’ve also been reading the inventory of Margaret Baillie/Bailley (nee Donoghue – her maiden name was probably the more conventional Baillie, but had somehow segued into Bailley by the time of her death), who died in Craiglockhart Poorhouse in 1904, aged 55.

Her estate amounted to £16 and 16 shillings, which would be about £1,400 in today’s terms. While her inventory is not extensive, the interesting point is that somebody who died intestate in a poorhouse can still be included and have an inventory recorded. So despite her lowly social position of being a poorhouse inmate, the new method for collecting records at this time ensured that the name of Margaret Baillie/Bailley was not one ‘writ in water’.

Page 1 of the inventory of Margaret Baillie/Bailley

Page 2 of the inventory of Margaret Baillie/Bailley

Page 3 from the inventory of Margaret Baillie/Bailley


Family history taster sessions with ScotlandsPeople – 13 December 2012 and 22/29 January 2013, General Register House, Edinburgh

The next ScotlandsPeople family history taster sessions will take place at General Register House on 13 December 2012 and 22/29 January 2013. All three events will start at 1.00pm and finish at 4.30pm.

The sessions will start with a brief presentation about the ScotlandsPeople Centre, followed by a taster session using the computer search system. To round off proceedings, there is another brief talk about the records that are held in the Historical Search Room. Light refreshments (included in the ticket price) are provided during the sessions. These informal events are ideal for people who are new to genealogy or the facilities at the ScotlandsPeople Centre.

There is a charge of £5.00 per place, which must be paid in advance, and seats can be booked by telephone from Wednesday 28 November (9am) onwards. For further information and to reserve a place, please call 0131 314 4300 (option 1).

Gift vouchers for the ScotlandsPeople website
With Christmas just four weeks away, you might be looking to the Present-Buying Muse to provide you with some divine inspiration for your Christmas shopping (and you might also be pondering the diplomatic dropping of hints to family and friends about possible gifts for yourself). If you’re presently in this pleasant predicament, then you might be interested in buying some gift vouchers for the ScotlandsPeople website?

For a minimum price of £7, you can buy a single gift voucher worth 30 website credits. You can also buy packs of ScotlandsPeople gift vouchers worth £14 (60 credits), £21 (90 credits), £28 (120 credits), and so on – increasing by steps of £7 and 30 credits each time. When buying gift vouchers, you can pay by cheque or credit card.

The gift vouchers make grand presents for genealogy-loving researchers of all ages. To find out more about ScotlandsPeople gift vouchers, click here.

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